This section consists chiefly of comments by individual
British officers on combat against the Japanese
in the western Burma area. Since these comments
are based on actual fighting experience in rugged
jungle terrain, they should prove helpful to U.S. officers
and enlisted men who will participate in jungle
warfare. However, it must be borne in mind that the
comments are not official British doctrine. The names
of the British officers are omitted.
2. ENEMY REACTION DURING COMBAT
The following comments deal with various reactions
of the Japanese during combat:
"Catch the Jap off guard and he is never ready to
fight. When surprised, he literally goes into a
panic, screams, and runs. Commence firing, and wipe out
the enemy as soon as possible. However, once the
Jap makes a stand, he is not a coward, but a courageous
"We consider the Jap a very bad marksman, particularly
when he is moving. He is a better shot when
well organized and static. However, his positions and
camouflage are excellent."
"The Jap hates the British artillery, and is literally
afraid of it. We found that we could easily make him
jittery by fake attacks. Our troops would yell, stamp
their feet, fire everything, lay a smoke screen, and, in
general, make all the noise possible. As a result, the
Jap would fire all arms, thus giving away all his
"The word 'halt' should never be used. It is unnecessary, and
its use often gives the enemy time to decide on a
quick plan of action. Our soldiers should
not be too trusting at night, and should not take too
much for granted. They must treat every man as an
enemy until he has proved himself.
"In many instances, the Japs learned the names of
our units and used them frequently for 'pin-pointing' positions
while patrolling at night. Anyone not able
to give the password at night must be shot. The password
should be changed every night.
"The Jap has difficulty in pronouncing the letter 'L,' so
use passwords which have several L's. Patrols going
out for several days should be given the password
for each day until their return."
3. NOTES ON ENEMY TACTICS
The following comments deal with various tactics
used by the Japanese:
"The Japs seemed to prefer the 'circular tour' method
of patrolling. Whether they were able to gather
much information by this method is doubtful.
"As in all previous campaigns, the enemy has depended
a great deal on infiltrations through our lines
or movements around our flanks. If a flanking movement
was started against him, he would reply by a
wider movement of his own. He has a passion for
high ground and thick cover.
"We should protect our lines of communication by
holding the high points which would be a menace if
held by the enemy. All roads are essential because of
our extensive use of motor transport."
"The Japs usually slept during the day and moved
at night. During the day, while they were in defensive
positions, they rarely attempted to fire on any of our forces.
"The enemy forces often would throw lighted firecrackers
15 to 20 yards off to their side. Some of our
less experienced soldiers fell for this ruse at first, and
fired in the direction of the exploding firecrackers. The
Japs, having determined our positions, would then
fire on us from the flanks."
"Snipers are a part of the Japanese defensive
system. They attacked our forward troops as the
latter advanced ahead of large British forces. However, it
is believed that the snipers' major mission is
to collect information. We seldom heard of them
firing on an individual soldier. Snipers sometimes
took up positions near road blocks along lines of
"About the only way to combat Jap snipers is to
use stalker-snipers, who shoot the Japs as soon as they
are located. The stalker-snipers nearly always work
in pairs, making full use of camouflage. While moving, they
must be completely under cover. If trails
are unavailable, about the only way they can get about
in the Burma jungle is along dry stream beds and
gullies. The British are now trained to crawl (frequently
on their stomachs) long distances if necessary... The
stalker-snipers who move along the
banks of dry stream beds and gullies communicate by
word of mouth. Along these avenues of travel there
are always places where the gullies and dry stream beds
converge. Thus, the snipers can hold prearranged
meetings under complete cover. When the snipers meet, they
discuss the situation and make future plans."
4. NOTES ON COMBAT PREPARATIONS
A high-ranking British officer has outlined the following
preparatory steps for combat against the Japanese:
"a. Training must be hard and realistic.
"b. Each man must be an expert with his weapon, and must be
able to use every weapon.
"c. Every man must consider the jungle a friendly
place, in which he can move, live, and fight with complete
"d. Every man must know, and be able to take advantage
of, the Jap's weaknesses. He must realize
that Jap successes thus far have been largely due to
our own errors and omissions rather than to any inherent
superiority of the Jap soldier.
"e. Every man must achieve absolute physical fitness—nothing
less will do in jungle warfare. He must
be able not only to march long distances, but to climb
hills, overcome obstacles, and put up with grueling
conditions of heat and thirst.
"f. Every man (especially officers and noncoms) must
be able to move freely and confidently about the
jungle, to stalk and hide, and to use his weapon under
all conditions and in all positions.
"g. Every man must be able to move as freely, and
with as much confidence, at night as during the day.
"h. Every man must have tenacity in defense, skill
and boldness in the approach, and the will—as well
as the skill—to close with the Jap and kill him in the
"i. The value of communications must be fully realized.
"j. Cooperation between infantry and artillery must
be fully and realistically practiced.
"k. Field artillery regiments and mountain batteries
must be trained in jungle methods.
"l. Bad or indifferent leaders must be weeded out.
"m. Training must be carried out in real jungles
and under conditions that are as realistic as possible. Man
must be pitted against man, squad against squad, and
platoon against platoon. Slit trenches must always
be dug; concealment must be practiced at all
times; sleep must be disturbed frequently; and minor
and major exercises must last four or more days.
"n. We must cease to be road-bound and motor-transport minded.
"o. Greater use must be made of pack transportation. Local
labor must be impressed as guides, porters, and interpreters.
"p. Half-trained replacements lacking jungle experience
must not be sent to join units in the field.
"q. Greater use should be made of planes for dropping
supplies and as ambulances."
"The only way you can defend a place in the Burma
jungles is to attack. This should feature infiltrations—not
mass frontal attacks against strongly defended
positions. Keep the Japs guessing....
"The theory that if you hold the high ground you
will win does not hold true in jungle warfare because
the density of the lower jungle terrain obstructs
observation. You must combine holding the high
ground with holding the dry stream beds, gullies, and
clefts in hills. Clefts in hills are the natural lines
of travel and are more easily traversed than low jungle
terrain. When all the important parts of the terrain
cannot be held because of a lack of men, it is necessary
to use offensive patrols."
"The use of camouflage in fighting the Jap is most
important. Be sure that spoil from trenches is properly
disposed of, that motor transport is well camouflaged
during the day, and that each individual is
"Security precautions should be taken with regard
to the natives. On several occasions we found ammunition
and arms in baskets carried by coolies who
had passed through our lines en route to rice fields.
"Arrangements must be made for dealing with
refugees as well as with the natives. Neither should
be permitted to approach our positions at any time. Very
often natives will have to be evacuated from
villages that we wish to occupy.... Officers and
men must be careful not to allow Jap spies to enter
camp disguised as natives offering their services. Often
an illiterate-looking native may understand
English very well, but not give you the slightest
indication of the fact.
"We believe that the natives have done a lot of
signaling at night by means of fires. They must have
fires, of course, but we have noticed that sometimes
these have been very large and have burned well into the
night—unusual occurrences in the native villages. Reconnaissance
planes flying overhead, or patrols from the hills, can
easily gather information from fire signals."